From the very first customer served in 1909, guests at Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub in historic Marshall have always been treated special. Now, 110 years later, it is the “Schuler Way” which sets this iconic destination restaurant apart from all the others.
From delivering the finest menu – loaded with classics and seasonal favorites – to maintaining a level of consistent hospitality from both the front and heart of the house, the ultimate goal is to be open to the appeal of younger guests’ tastes while continuing to serve their parents and grandparents who remain loyal customers.
“The Schuler’s brand remains dedicated to providing an unparalleled experience on several levels,” says Sue Damron, who was named President and Managing Partner at Schuler’s in 2014. “We have the benefit of generations of experience behind us which will continue to guide us toward the future as one of Michigan’s longest-running restaurants.”
Identifying, modifying and promoting the established practices, along with the newer elements, must be coordinated not only by management but must become a philosophy of the entire team. Unlike “trendy” new restaurants or notable chain brands, Schuler’s has an opportunity to showcase itself as a progressive eatery while also holding true to its historic roots. By being aware of changes to the industry, Schuler’s can build upon the elements on which the company was founded while adapting to the demands that today’s culture brings to the table.
The Schuler’s brand remains dedicated to providing an unparalleled experience on multiple levels to each guest walking through the door. From the complimentary Heritage cheese spread and crackers (part of the Schuler tradition) to signature dishes (Swiss onion soup, prime rib, barbecue meatballs and peppermint ribbon pie) and holiday brunch buffets, the flavor of Schuler’s remains a top priority.
Yet, those plates don’t get to the table on their own. The stellar staff, from the passionate culinary team in the kitchen to the well-trained and personable servers, is dedicated to delivering their best each and every day. In fact, they’re prepared to go above and beyond when the situation warrants as community liaisons. Whether guests are looking for lodging reservations, directions to a local brewery or information about shops around town, the staff is eager to assist. In fact, Schuler’s has recently invested in the national Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program launched by the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau (CCVB) in 2017. To date, 30 of the Schuler’s staff have been CTA certified, more than any other single business or organization in the county (there are 228 total ambassadors county-wide).
“It is such a pleasure to partner with businesses like Schuler’s, that does everything they can to ensure that visitors receive the best possible experience during their time in our area,” says Kimber Thompson, Marketing Manager & CTA Program Manager for CCVB. “We feel privileged that they have added our CTA program to their training program since their commitment to customer service is legendary. After all, they have been working to perfect it for over 100 years!”
In its effort to remain fresh and relevant, Schuler’s has recently launched a weekday Happy Hour, offered Monday through Thursdays from 4-6pm, with drink special and daily food features. On weekends, guests can now order from a new plated breakfast menu from 10am until 2pm (service is offered currently on Sundays, with Saturdays being added in mid-June).
Schuler’s is also amping up some of their existing offerings like the summer seasonal patio and Thursday “Grill Nights” and the Fly In Program (where they’ll pick up guests at the Brooks Airport in Marshall and bring them into the restaurant for dinner or drinks and then take them back to their airplane).
“We have identified those things that set us apart and that our guests expect when they choose to spend their time and dining budget with us and we are finding ways to make them even better,” Damron says. “We are looking at how we can go the extra mile and deliver ‘surprise hospitality’ touches like greeting regulars by name and remembering their favorites off the menu or sharing a bit of our history with guests who are visiting us for the first time. In this digital era, it’s the one-on-one contact that makes the biggest impression in the hospitality industry.”
Schuler’s is also paying attention to how to market itself in the ever-growing online world—upgrading its social presence and inviting guests to be part of the conversation on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor. Such strategies are vital to reach, attract and maintain relationships with the millennial and other future generations.
“Making sure every meal coming out of the kitchen and every drink coming from the bar is visually appealing for those who choose to snap and post a picture for social sharing,” says Damron. “Whether that is a picture we take internally to help entice visitors to come see us or it is our guests who are posting images to their own accounts, the way our food and drinks look is increasingly important.”
Things have come a long way over the 110 years since a young entrepreneur named Albert Schuler opened his first establishment in Marshall, offering a bakery, lunch counter, billiards and cigars. But one thing remains constant—the dedication to growing and advancing with the times while maintaining the foundation on which that legacy of hospitality excellence was built.